Mother’s Mating Call


Mother’s Mating CallThey found my mother. She’d been camping in the jungle with a crazy man. On the phone Mom described it this way: “My belly’s distended, and the whites of my eyes bulge. Honey, I look like shit, but I’m alive.” I imagined her jumping up and down with anxiety like her voice, hopping and faltering.

“You were acting like a teenager!” I shouted. “Don’t you know better than that, Mom? You hardly knew him!” Was it my fault she’d run off with a stranger? Because I was living in New York City, thousands of miles away?

I suppose I should have seen it coming. She’d adopted a new ringtone—a froggy-sounding mating chirp—soon after Dad died.

“You flew with some stranger to the jungles of Costa Rica? You didn’t tell anyone?”

“You don’t know what I felt like.”

Now she was sobbing. Her “date”—a psychiatrist who had lost his marbles, quit medicine to become a snake-whisperer. She thought maybe a viper killed him. She was alone in the jungle with only one shoe.

“I did my best, sweetie.” On their second date, he’d given her a jungle vacation package.

“I wanted to show him I had real courage.” Dad had called her timid and fearful. “He loves adventure. I don’t hold it against him. I just hope he’s still alive.”

Clearly my mother had a mating call, and men were answering it. Who knew what could happen next? No more leaving her unsupervised. She might swallow the next one whole.

Photo used under CC.


About Author


Meg Pokrass is the author of six flash fiction collections and two novellas-in-flash. Her work has been anthologized in Flash Fiction International and New Micro (W.W. Norton & Co., 2018), Wigleaf Top 50, Best Small Fictions, 2018 and 2019, Flash Non-Fiction Funny, My Very End of the Universe – Five Novellas in Flash and a Study of the Form, Nothing Short Of 100, Funnybone, National Flash Fiction Day Anthology, the Biffy 50, 2019, and others. Her flash has appeared in over 350 literary journals including Electric Literature, Tin House, Tupelo Quarterly, Wigleaf, and Smokelong Quarterly. Meg currently serves as Flash Challenge Editor at Mslexia Magazine, Festival Curator for Flash Fiction Festival, U.K., Co-Editor of Best Microfiction 2020, and Founding/Managing Editor of New Flash Fiction Review. Her new collection, The Dog Seated Next to Me, will be published in 2019 by Pelekinesis Press and a novella-in-flash, The Smell of Good Luck is forthcoming from Flash: The International Short Short Story Press.

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